On Monday, May 15, 2017, representatives from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) provided an update on Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) at a program hosted by the Ontario Bar Association (OBA). The program was chaired and moderated by Baker McKenzie’s J. Andrew Sprague.

This article focuses on some of the insightful statistics provided by CRTC staff as well as some of the International partnerships the CRTC has entered into.

A future article will cover some of the other topics discussed at the program.

Total Submissions Received and Monthly Average

Since CASL came into force on July 1, 2014, the Canadian Spam Reporting Centre has received over 950,000 total submissions.

On average, the Canadian Spam Reporting Centre receives 5,000 to 6,000 new submissions every week, and, notwithstanding that CASL is approaching its third anniversary on July 1, 2017, the number of submissions received has not tapered off during the first three years of CASL.

Complaints by Communication Type

Most submissions concern email messages. In the last year, the Canadian Spam Reporting Centre has seen a significant increase in submissions concerning SMS (Short Message Service) messages.

For example, during 2015-2016, the Canadian Spam Reporting Centre received over 5,000 web-form submissions related to email. During the same time period, the Canadian Spam Reporting Centre received less than 1,500 web-form submissions related to SMS.

During 2016-2017, the Canadian Spam Reporting Centre received less than 4,500 web-form submissions related to email, and approx. 3,500 web-form submissions related to SMS.

Other web-form submissions received by the Canadian Spam Reporting Centre concern instant messaging, other types of messages, and other electronic threats (such as websites).

In addition to submitting complaints via the Canadian Spam Reporting Centre's web-form, complaints can also be submitted to spam@fightspam.gc.ca. Complaints submitted via email are not reflected in the statistics in this article.

Complaints by Reason

The following statistics reflect data collected from complaints via web-form submissions to the Canadian Spam Reporting Centre.

Consent Issues

The single largest reason for complaints is consent issues.

In 2015-2016, the Canadian Spam Reporting Centre received approx. 15,000 complaints each month relating to consent. In 2016-2017, the number of complaints relating to consent has risen to over 16,000.

Within the category of consent, the Canadian Spam Reporting Centre has identified five sub-issues that are reflected in web-form submissions. Those sub-issues and the number of complaints that concern each sub-issue are identified below.

Deceptive Marketing Practices

The second largest reason for complaints is deceptive marketing practices.

In 2015-2016, the Canadian Spam Reporting Centre received approx. 4,100 complaints each month relating to deceptive marketing practices. In 2016-2017, the number of complaints relating to deceptive marketing practices has risen to approx. 6,800.

Within the category of deceptive marketing practices, the Canadian Spam Reporting Centre has identified three sub-issues that are reflected in web-form submissions. Those sub-issues and the number of complaints that concern each sub-issue are identified below.

Identification Issues

The third largest reason for complaints is identification issues.

In 2015-2016, the Canadian Spam Reporting Centre received approx. 3,400 complaints each month relating to identification issues. In 2016-2017, the number of complaints relating to identification issues has risen to approx. 5,400.

Within the category of identification issues, the Canadian Spam Reporting Centre has identified two sub-issues that are reflected in web-form submissions. Those sub-issues and the number of complaints that concern each sub-issue are identified below.

Other Complaints

Some of the other complaints received by the Canadian Spam Reporting Centre via web-form submission are complaints related to software and malware issues. For example, complaints have been filed in respect of the installation of software on someone's computer without their consent, and someone's computer has been accessed and their personal information has been collected without their consent.

International Enforcement

The CRTC continues to enforce CASL domestically in Canada. In addition, the CRTC, the Competition Bureau and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada continue to enter into memoranda of understanding (MOUs) and agreements with International partners.

The CRTC has entered into formal relationships with the following International partners:

Later this month, it is anticipated that the CRTC will formally announce that it has entered, or will be entering, into a bi-lateral agreement with Australia. It is believed that this new bi-lateral agreement will cover anti-spam/direct marketing as well as unsolicited telecommunications (do not call).

When specific details regarding the bi-lateral agreement become available, we will share them on b:INFORM.